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How should I keep my monarchs organized for Activity 3?

If you’re an avid monarch raiser, you know that it can get complicated caring for numerous individuals and keeping them all straight for your MLMP reports (Activity 3, Estimating Survival). One of the easiest ways to organize them is to keep each individual in a different container. We recommend doing this for many reasons; the main reason is to minimize any risk of spreading disease between them. In any case, it is very important that if you are raising monarchs, you do so responsibly, and report your observations to MLMP. Here are some tips for labeling your containers to keep track of who is who:

  • Use labels that can be easily transferred from one container to another, in case you need to switch. We use colored label tape, but masking tape or painting tape works equally as well.
  • Design your labels for easy sorting. If you collect from multiple sites, consider color coding, or starting each label with a unique set of letters. For example, we collect from multiple areas for this activity (Falcon Heights Park, Karen’s Yard, etc.) and use letters to help categorize where a monarch came from. All of our monarchs from Falcon Heights Park begin with the letters FHP, so our monarchs are FHP1, FHP2, FHP3, etc., and those from Karen’s house are K1, K2, K3 and so on.
  • Keep track of different sites from which you collect monarchs on different Activity 3 datasheets and use an alphanumeric system to allow you to easily refer back to a data record when something about an individual you are raising changes. Even if you only collect from one site, it is still good practice to keep some association about where they came from on your label (vs. just a number). 
  • In case you forget to record something, or you happen to lose your datasheet, try to keep as much detail on the label as you can. Include things like the unique identifying number you assigned, the date you collected the monarch, and the stage at which you collected it.

If short on room, one opportunity to save containers would be to put together individuals that were collected from the same location, on the same date, in the same stage. For example, if you collected three 4th instar larvae from Falcon Heights Park, you could put them together into one appropriately sized container. Create a unique identifier for each and record their details on the datasheet. Since they all have the same history, simply record the fate of each under one of the corresponding numbers.

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